Former Eagles receiver Freddie Mitchell pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to file a false claim as part of a tax-fraud scheme. As he attempts to convince a judge to go easy on him in sentencing, he is suggesting that brain injuries suffered playing football may have led him to commit the crime.
According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Mitchell appeared at a sentencing hearing in Orlando on Thursday and said, essentially, that the concussions made him do it. Mitchell detailed concussions he suffered during his NFL career and said he has headaches, insomnia and memory loss.
Mitchell’s claims of a link between his crime and brain injuries seems like a tough sell. If this were a matter of Mitchell forgetting to file his tax return, it would be easy to see why he would claim a brain injury suffered on the football field was a factor. But that’s not what Mitchell did. Prosecutors say Mitchell and two others hatched a plan to file a false tax return under NBA player Drew Gooden’s name, get a bigger refund from the IRS than Gooden was entitled to, and then pocket the money themselves. (Gooden is not accused of any wrongdoing, and it was Gooden filing a correct tax return that alerted authorities to the fact that Mitchell and his partners had already received a $2 million refund in Gooden’s name under a fraudulent return.)
Mitchell’s lawyers are asking for a sentence of probation and community service, but he could get up to 10 years in prison. His sentencing hearing will resume on Tuesday.